10 W Fallon Ave Baker, MT 59313
Fallon County of Montana

Commission Minutes – October 2 – October 6, 2023

Commission Minutes – October 2 – October 6, 2023



PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder


The Pledge of Allegiance was held in the Commissioner’s Office to start off the week.


          No one appeared for Public Comment.

9:00AM DISCUSS/DECISION TO PASS RESOLUTION #1113 FIXING/AMENDING THE MILL LEVY FOR THE STATE EQUALIZATION, COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL EQUALIZATION AND COUNTY ELEMENTARY EQUALIZATION MILL LEVY AUTHORITY FOR THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 2023 AND ENDING JUNE 30, 2024/Barbara Ketterling, Treasurer/Assessor; Julie Post, Deputy Treasurer/Assessor; Aaron Skogen, Baker Superintendent of Schools; Timberly Kelly, Plevna Superintendent of Schools

         Commissioner Rost led the discussion informing the group of discussions held at the recent MACo Conference in Butte, MT. The Commission discussed their intent is to do what is best for the taxpayers by following the laws given, using the best process possible.

           The Counties asked for an opinion from the Attorney General, which was declined. MACo is not taking a position on this but is assisting by gathering information to present to all Counties so they may make an informed decision.  Each County must make their own decision about what to levy. 

           Should the County choose to levy the 95 mills, any taxpayer may protest the difference between the 77.89 levy authority calculated by the DOR and the 95 mills imposed. Should the taxpayer choose to do so they would need to protest, in writing, in advance of paying their tax bill AND must then file an action in District Court to benefit from any decision limiting the levy authority. Each and every taxpayer must protest and file to be eligible for relief. If a court determines the levy authority is less than what the County milled, only those filing a written protest and suing in court will receive the benefit from the ruling.

          The County may alternatively levy 77.89 mills. Again, this is the number provided by the DOR, officially, as the State’s current levy authority. Court action would likely be triggered, and may have already begun in other counties, however, the determination by a court will impact ALL property taxpayers rather than just those that protest and file in court. Schools are funded through a combination of local and statewide property tax levies. 

          The Commission asked the Superintendent’s for their input. Baker Superintendent, Aaron Skogen stated the schools are worried about the funding due to statements made by Lance Melton, CEO Montana School Board Association and other School Representatives. Plevna School Superintendent, Timberly Kelly felt the Commission should go with their gut feelings.

          More discussion took place with the decision to table and meet later this week

Commissioner Rost made the motion to table this discussion until 9:00 AM-Thursday, October 5, 2023 in the Commissioner’s office.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for further discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

9:26 AM Timberly left the meeting.

9:29 AM Aaron, Barbara and Julie left the meeting.

Robert and Melissa Thielen joined.

          The Commission gave them the Thielen Access Plat to review.

9:55 AM ROAD/SHOP UPDATES/Bobby Wiedmer, Road Superintendent; Carl Overland, Shop Mechanic

         ROAD/SHOP UPDATES- The Road Crew should have the mowing finished by the end of the week. They are also almost finished cleaning cattleguards as well. 

9:59 AM Julie Straub, HRM joined.

They have finished the county’s portion of the City of Baker Street project. The Commission stated the road crew did a great job. The Commission wondered about tracking of hours.  The man hours were tracked on the timesheets, and they can calculate the fuel costs as well. Discussed removal of sand from the 4H barn for upcoming events. A decision will be made so the crew has time to do what is needed. They are not blading roads today but will probably start tomorrow.

          The Commission had heard the road crew feels the Commission does not care about their safety. Carl and Bobby indicated that was correct. This related to a matter that happened several months ago, relating to an oilfield fire and the route chosen by an oilfield supervisor. The road was being worked on by the road crew, (with proper road signage). Carl explained the person that went around the road closed signs, also drove past the first county road crew member. The oilfield employee came to a ditch, which is where the second county employee was located. The second county employee did speak to the oilfield employee; it was stated the county employee was not confrontational. The Commission expressed they did not hear the entire story from the road crew at the Road Department update meeting.

          Discussed the need to communicate in advance with those landowners, or companies that will be affected by a road closure so alternate routes can be taken, and emergency routes can be communicated in advance. Bobby stated they practiced that in the past and will do so for future road matters. They discussed the amount of time it takes to set up proper signage.  The Commission again wanted to clarify; the safety of crew comes first. In instances such as that, an investigation should be completed so they have something to back up what was said and the reasons for doing so; this can be taken to the company to be reviewed. The Commission needs to hear both sides so the full details of what happened are known. The Commission wanted to make sure this matter is clarified. They will pass this information along to everyone.

           The turbo went down on a loader; it is recommended they change out both turbos. Will also change out the injector cups. The cost will be $4,600 for both turbos; the loader currently has 3982 hours on it, and they should finish it up next week. Bobby stated they finished building Straub Access and will need more scoria as well. Discussed work on the intersection of the Old Baker Highway; they have not started on that project and will probably wait until next spring since they are down four crew members compared to what they used to have. 

          Commissioner Rost went to the transportation committee meeting at the MACo conference and brought back some reclaimer information. Richland County is using this to test some of their roads. 

10:19 AM Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering joined.

          Julie joined the discussion and stated she has an applicant for the open operator position. The applicant has a Class A permit but has to take the driving test. If hired, would they have permission to take the driving portion of their test, using a county truck?  Discussed probation period has been 6 months; discussed possibly changing it to one year or extending probation an additional 6 months since the applicant does not have blade experience. This would allow more time for training.

10:25 AM Debbie Wyrick, Deputy Clerk and Recorder joined.

Discussed a county employee using a county truck to take his CDL test.  Debbie stated there is no problem with that; they would have to be driven to the test, which is past practice. 

10:28 AM Richard Menger, Sanitarian joined.  

Bobby feels any applicant that does not have a CDL must obtain one within 60 days. The decision is to proceed with the interview of the applicant.

10:30 AM Julie left the meeting.

Bobby and Carl had nothing further to report. 

10:31 AM Bobby and Carl left the meeting.

10:31 AM PROJECT UPDATES/Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering; Richard Menger, Sanitarian

     UPDATES/ Rich has the last trace element water test of the year to pull from the golf course irrigation. Discussed the list of trace elements he has to follow. The cost is $400 to complete this testing; permission to proceed with the test. The gate for the upper dam has been open for about 2 weeks to attain the empty status by the required date. Rich notified NRCS and is handling this matter. Discussed preparation of the required test for the golf course pond.  They will water the golf course, which will allow the lowering of the water level, also allowing the ability to replace the lid.

10:37 AM Julie Straub, HRM rejoined.

Baker Metal is working on the lid; Commissioner Braun will check the status.

     1.Discuss courthouse courtyard drainage/Discussed diverting the water to the east. Discussed the existing 3” line in the pit and wondered if it could be increased. Shannon stated it is likely that it cannot; it will be best to drain it to the street. Shannon will look at some options and return with the information.

     2.Discuss a plan for ADA courthouse handicap accessibility upgrades/Commission discussed the ever-increased changes made to handicap equipment and motorized equipment. Although the ramp is ADA compliant the Commission would like to better accommodate and make the ramp the best it can be. Discussed putting a door on the East side of the building and/or making the landing larger or making the back entrance the handicap entrance and make it more accommodating.  Debbie stated the back door is not wide enough, may have to change the door out.  Proper signage was discussed and will decide whether one or both entrances will remain handicap accessible. The front entrance could be changed to a loading and unloading zone only by placing proper signage and paint with yellow paint, in place of blue. The Commission will include Derrick deHaan, Maintenance Assistant, in both of these discussions; Shannon and the Commission will view both areas.  

10:48 AM Debbie and Julie left the meeting.

          Bobby and Missy were asked if they had questions. After reviewing the plat of Thielen Access they were curious why the entire petition was not completed.  Shannon explained only the portion of the road that is maintained by the county was included on the plat. Commissioner Rost felt the Thielen’s only wanted to know if the road was in the correct spot. Thielen’s wanted to know that, and they wanted to see the entire petition. Missy asked if they would complete the full petition and then the easements can be worked through.  Discussed the portion where there is no road and how Brosz would handle that portion of the petition.   Commissioner Braun stated the county will follow the 2009 legislature. Bobby told Shannon he wants to see the pins; Shannon will discuss this with the surveyor.

10:58 AM Bobby and Missy left the meeting.

11:02 AM Barbara Ketterling, Treasurer/Assessor joined.

Discussed completing the remaining petition; Shannon will discuss this with the surveyor. The next meeting, with the Thielen’s, was scheduled for the 16th of October at 10:30 AM. 

11:12 AM-Shannon left the meeting.

Barb reviewed the August cash report with the Commission.

11:14 AM Barb left the meeting.


Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve the September, 2023 Payroll and Withholdings in the amount of $608,728.24. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.


          The Commission will review and approve the minutes later.

11:30 AM DISCUSS FINAL REVISIONS TO SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY/Julie Straub, HRM; Josh Lewis, System Administrator

          This was discussed at the MACo Convention; the Commission wanted Josh and Julie to know they did a good job by being proactive. Commissioner Rost stated other counties may contact Josh; the Commission asked that he share our policy with other counties if contacted. Josh and Julie met with the Department Heads/

Supervisors/Elected Officials on the 18th and 25th; and there were a few revisions made. The policy presented today is the final format; there will be a two-week comment period, followed by a public hearing; after which the commission will adopt the final updated Social Media Policy by resolution.

          Discussed how to make all county social media web pages, “Official County Web Pages”. It was felt that could be accomplished by using the Fallon County logo and script. They will make the changes and send out the final policy for the 2-week comment period.

11:49 AM Josh and Julie left the meeting. 

11:57 AM Commissioner Braun made the motion to recess. Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.

Commissioner Baldwin asked for any discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

                NOON RECESS

PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



          No one appeared for public comment.

1:30 PM DISCUSSION/DECISION SHOOTING RANGE PAT TRAP QUOTES/FWP GRANT/Kirk Lineback and Matt Weber, Shooting Range Board Members; Jim Leischner; Shooting Range Manager

          The Shooting Range pat trap grant was awarded by FWP.  In-kind labor and proper paperwork were discussed as well as documenting why they were not able to get more than one quote. Kirk believes the company they are dealing with is the only company that makes this equipment. Once you are in contact with a company, your territory is represented by that company.  They have located some used machines they could purchase rather than new machines.  They could get the used machines, which are older models for $4,000, (they are rebuildable and operational). Kirk and Matt are confident in the condition of the used machines. The used machines would cost $8,000 rather than paying $18,000 for the new machines.

          The Shooting Range Board wants to know when they can move forward with the project, but they need to get in contact with the FWP grant representative. They want to know if they can proceed with the used ones or if they have to go with the new ones. If they can purchase the used ones, will they be able to use the left-over funding for cement work or will the funding be lost. Discussed the possibility of an extension being needed. Commissioner Rost found they would be able to extend it for up to one year. The Commission would like to see a drawing of the project. They will get one to the Commission to review.  Kirk and Matt will try to get in touch with FWP for the needed tracking paperwork and get their next steps finalized. 

          Discussed the club house interior work plans and asked for permission to make some alterations, to include cutting a few holes in the walls and would like to install handicapped restrooms.  Kirk may do the work on the restrooms under his business and donate the supplies. Permission to upgrade the inside of the club house.

          Rules sign-They would like to have a rules sign made out of metal placed at the Shooting Range. This would give something for the board to stand on if someone does something wrong.  Get a quote for the metal sign and return to see if there is money in the budget.

2:00 PM Kirk and Matt left the meeting.

2:00 PM Commissioner Baldwin was excused for the day.

2:00 PM SHOOTING RANGE UPDATES/Jim Leischner, Shooting Range Manager

          The new Game Warden will be coming to the Shooting Range this week (Thursday). Law Enforcement has been out to practice shooting. The metal rules sign would come from the Shooting Range budget, not the Trap budget. Discussed the membership form should be signed each year.  Commissioner Rost felt if the rules were put on the form, they need to sign that each year and that states they read, know and understand the rules. Discussed the extension of the grant further. Discussed shoots that have been held have been well attended. They have a shoot this weekend and some more shoots coming up.

2:16 PM Jim left the meeting.


Commissioner Rost made the motion to approve the September, End of Month claims, in the amount of $155,482.57. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Braun asked for any other discussion; being none. 2 Ayes. 0 Nays. 1 Absent. (Commissioner Baldwin). The motion carried.

2:35 PM Brenda was excused for the day.

3:30 PM Commissioner Rost made the motion to recess.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Braun asked for any other discussion; being none. 2 Ayes. 0 Nays. 1 Absent. (Commissioner Baldwin). The motion carried.




PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



          No one appeared for Public Comment.

9:35 AM GOLF COURSE SAFETY REVIEW/Julie Straub, HRM; Debbie Wyrick, Safety Committee Member; Kevin Hill, Golf Course Superintendent; Doug Varner, Lead Seasonal Ground Crew Hand

          The group met to go through the recent safety review completed at the Golf Course. They are currently doing some work on the main shop as they have time. Many times, throughout the course of the meeting the golf course employees were recognized for all they have been doing and all they have accomplished and all they continue to do.

          Julie discussed items in the review that need to be addressed both inside and outside the buildings and grounds area around the buildings. Discussed required signage needs to be more visible and secured; trip hazards removed; trash emptied and general cleanliness of microwave, etc. Chemical inventory list and SDS sheets readily available and all chemicals clearly marked and contained. Clean and organize the inside of all buildings. Debbie discussed teaching seasonals proper cleaning techniques and make sure it is completed, so it becomes habit. Commissioner Braun stated the county needs to show that should there be an accident, the county is doing our due diligence. All proper notices need to be properly posted (medical provider notice, etc.). Department to complete monthly inspection of fire extinguishers and make sure they are all tagged with a current inspection tag from Johnson Controls. Check and properly store extension cords. Lock out tag out certification program and proper tagging non-working equipment was discussed. Discussed equipment that could be given to another department if not going to be used at the golf course, otherwise secure it properly. Stairways need to be cleared of any boxes, etc. and properly clean steps and handrails.  Need to post upstairs load bearing notice in more conspicuous place. Let all employees know the shop, grounds and equipment need to be kept clean and maintained. Discussed storing items in crates until they have ample time to complete maintenance or decide if they will be disposed of. Discussed the possibility there may be a buy-back program for sprinkler heads they are not able to repair. Make sure all guards are properly in place. Updated air nozzles; cardboard and paper removed from chemical cabinet; eyewash station inspected monthly were also discussed. Secure fertilizer and grass seed in proper containers; locks for buildings updated.  Julie stated Commissioner Braun has offered to give shop training to all employees. Clean up all outer perimeter areas before winter.  Make sure if property or vehicle damage occurs to file a report. Maintain and clean assigned vehicle. Discussed updated lighting inside and outside; will get a quote and return to Commission. Lagoon area safety was also discussed. This group will return to the Golf Course for a follow-up on November 27th at 9:00 AM; expectations are known. 

11:00 AM Debbie, Kevin and Doug left the meeting.

11:00 AM FINALIZE PROCEDURE FOR MASS NOTIFICATION SYSTEM/Julie Straub, HRM; Josh Lewis, System Administrator; Trenton Harbaugh, Sheriff/Coroner

          Trenton asked the name of the mass notification system. Josh stated the program is “Click Send”.

Josh reviewed the procedures with the group. When the message is sent out; the end of all messages should include “Do Not Reply”. Each Commissioner will run a quarterly test. This will be put on the agenda as a reminder for the Commission. Employees will be responsible for setting this up on their phone; the call will then be recognized by the employee. Those that sign up will be given a copy of the sheet they signed as well as their Supervisors/Elected Officials. This will be added to the open enrollment meeting for existing employees and new employee sign-up sheets. The agreement is ready and will need to be signed. There will be a master employee list kept in the Clerk and Recorder’s office.  When an employee leaves employment, they will be removed. The Commission Chair and at least one other Commissioner will make the decision to send out the messages. The Chairman will always be the initiator, in his absence it will be the Vice-Chair, etc. The message will be placed on the website by the System Administrator. The DES/911 Coordinator will contact the radio stations.  If the DES position is vacant, then this will fall to the Commission Chair. Everyone who signed up will receive a text message and will also have the availability to do a voice follow-up if it is felt it is necessary. The voice follow-up unfortunately sends from 1 of 4 different numbers (employees could put those four (4) numbers in their phones also). Department Heads/Elected Officials will be responsible for contacting their staff. Josh will send to Law Enforcement and Dispatch ONLY. 

11:43 AM Julie, Josh and Trenton left the meeting.

11:45 AM Commissioner Rost made the motion to recess. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.

Commissioner Baldwin asked for any further discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

                NOON RECESS

PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



          No one appeared for public comment.

1:30 PM SMART AND EMEDA MONTHLY UPDATES/Vaughn Zenko, Executive Director

           SMART AND EMEDA UPDATES/After applicant interviews, Chayenne Dame has been selected as the new SMART employee. Pocket Park is almost finished/discussed cleaning of green area. The Visitor Center looks great; construction is finished/still have flooring and other things to complete before they are up and running. The last fundraiser held at the O.S. Brew Pub brought in $300. Discussed having an escape room rather than the haunted house as it does not require as many individuals to assist.  They hope to have the escape room ready by the end of the month. Would like one (1) or all Commissioner’s to attend the Childcare Montana roundtable discussion. They would like community leaders, providers, and businesses to attend. Providers will find it difficult to attend due to the fact their daycares will be open. Meghan with Red Ants Pants Foundation will be here to meet with Museums in the area to discuss Rural MT needs. The play- “Christmas Carol” will be performed December 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. They are looking into making this a weeklong event, Vaughn will be asking businesses to dress to fit the theme. 

1:58 PM Sara Berger, Weed Control Coordinator joined.

          Dale Butori visited with Vaughn about the possibility of putting out Emergency Messages since the radio station is not staffed all the time. Vaughn looked into a low power FM station/called text to air station. The station cannot be competitive with local stations; would have to provide educational and/or local announcements only. The hope is it would be similar to Channel 3 that we used to have on TV. The Port Authority needs to make the decision to proceed or not. Discussed also contacting the TV Board to ask for a channel to do this.  Vaughn is ready to file with the FCC and would like the Commission’s input.  The Commission feels it is a great idea but would like our new DES person to be involved in this as well.  Vaughn stated they are ready to file now.

2:05 PM Vaughn left the meeting.

2:05 PM WEED DEPARTMENT UPDATES/Sara Berger, Weed Control Coordinator

          WEED UPDATES/Still spraying for a few landowners and will finish when the weather cooperates.  High probability the Department of Ag will pass a new ruling that no one under the age of 18 will be able to spray restricted use chemicals.  This is going to make the hiring process much more difficult. Many counties will end up not spraying for landowners. Spray Day will be held Nov 14th and will be advertised in the paper and on the radio. Commissioner Rost mentioned checking with the Conservation District to see if it can be put in their newsletter. Commissioner Braun suggested contacting Karol Zachmann to add to her “Talk Around Town” radio show. Sara has a caterer hired for the event. The trucks are winterized, ordered propane today, checking on new pumps and contacted Warne Chemical for pricing; Fall training in Livingston will be held in two weeks.

2:20 PM Sara left the meeting.

2:30 PM CHAMBER AND RECREATION UPDATES/Melissa Higbee, Chamber Executive Director; Mariah Miller, Recreation Director

          Not available to attend.

2:36 PM Commissioner Rost made the motion to recess.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.




PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



          No one appeared for Public Comment.

9:30 AM OUTSIDE MAINTENANCE UPDATES/Robbie Christiaens, Maintenance Supervisor

          UPDATES/All water lines have been blown out. There will be a marathon on Saturday and then he will blow out the last restroom. Derrick has blown out the courthouse and Parkview irrigation lines once and will do it a second time. Commissioner Rost asked about the Plevna Park; Robbie will try to do that today.  The docks will be removed on Friday if he has time, otherwise when he returns. They will shut the waterfall off before a major freeze. Has all of the dirt hauled to the softball fields; Griffith will come and level it when they have time. Robbie will seed when that is finished.  One mower is now a snow machine. There will still be some mowing to do; has already fertilized. Tami Baldwin and Debi Schillinger pruned trees and Robbie hauled all of those branches away.  The Commission let Robbie know the upper dam is open and draining as required. Discussed revamping the boat dock we have rather than purchasing a new boat dock. 

9:45 AM Robbie left the meeting.

10:00 AM IT UPDATES/Josh Lewis, System Administrator

          UPDATES/Will be replacing the main server this weekend (Sunday and Monday). Commission approved OT. The Financial Software server will probably be replaced in November, has to make sure to work it out with all of the offices as it will take two (2) days to migrate. If they do this on the weekend it will cost the county $400 per hour to have Tyler assist with that.  The door fob system at Parkview crashed and no backups were being done. They will need to reprogram the fobs, etc. Josh did not know about this computer so it will now be placed in rotation and will be backed up. Josh will take care of that this week.  DES/Josh will get the voicemail set up today. Brenda Hoeger, Emergency Communications Dispatch Supervisor will be taking care of the billing, etc. All cell phones will be receiving testing alerts today. Josh wondered if he should post this on the DES Webpage; the Commission did not feel this was necessary. Verizon phone system-Josh and Kimberly will finalize the list and lines this week and will get a final quote. Josh will then schedule a call with Tab Electronics, Verizon, and Mid-Rivers to implement the new system. Mid Rivers currently has an internet line, located at the courthouse, for the phone system. This was done to prevent congestion; the line is not billed to the county currently.  We will be billed when the transition takes place, but it shouldn’t be a large cost. Josh will keep the Commission posted on the switchover of the new system.  All new cell phones have been handed out to staff and upgraded. Commissioner Braun asked the value of a cell phone, after 2 years. Josh said the value would be minimal.  Josh discussed having no means of administering county cell phones should those devices be lost or stolen. Josh would not be able to lock the device down. Josh found a mobile device management app that could be placed on the phone, he would be able to lock it down and locate it.  The Commission did not feel this was necessary. Josh is working on the falloncounty.net webpage to make pages more easily searchable. Josh brought the county website search result report for the Commission to review.  Josh will be converting 3 more City of Baker email accounts to 365; after this there will only be a couple left from the City of Baker.

10:30 AM Josh left the meeting.

10:30 AM MUSEUM UPDATES/Melissa Rost, Museum Curator

         Unable to attend.


          The Commission all agree to move forward with the Commission Secretary Position. Will discuss the job description next week.


          The Commission reviewed revenues received, reports, emails and other correspondence, board minutes and agendas. The Commission received the 3rd quarter bridge report from MT DOT for the Ismay/Cottonwood Creek Bridge. The state determined the rating to be 8 out of 9 possible. No work recommendations were made for this bridge. 

1.Old Business (as needed)

          a.Wells Fargo Trust for the Landfill (any decisions needed)

               Shawn Wisemen notified the Commission he has found someone at Wells Fargo that is willing to work with the Bank of Baker and the County on this matter. 

          b.Hospital basement maintenance (any decisions needed)

               No further discussion at this time.

          c.EMS billing practices/rates (discussion/decisions as needed)

               No further discussion at this time.

          d.Policies/Procedures for gate permit system (discussion/decisions as needed)

                No further discussion at this time.

          e. Indigent Burial Policy discussion/decisions

                 Policy not received at this time.

           f.Any decisions regarding the agreement between Fallon County and EMEDA for use of county land for purposes of Food Forest

                 The agreement was not received at this time.

           g.Decision to move forward with Credible Minds or Sapphire

              Will put this on the agenda again and discuss Sapphire with Julie Straub, HRM.

            h.Approve/Sign/DocuSign/DNRC Lakeview Drive Storm Drain reimbursement agreement/ARPA related

            DNRC has not sent the paperwork over to be signed as of this time.

            i.Other old business as needed

                      None at this time.


3.Review & Approve Encroachment/Approach Permits (as needed)

4.Review Board Minutes/Agendas (Boards other than Commission)

5.Review Department/office reports/sign journal vouchers (as needed)

6.Executive/Action items:

          a.Review/Approve/Sign and DocuSign State of MT DOT Transade Agreement for Council on Aging Transportation System

          Commissioner Braun made the motion to approve, sign and docusign the State of Montana Transade agreement for the Council on Aging Transportation System.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

          b.Review/Discuss/Decision regarding EAP quote from Sapphire Resource Connection

             Will be put on the agenda again and discussed with Julie Straub, HRM.

          c.Review/Discuss CWD Flyer provided by Melissa Foster, FWP-Contact Melissa with questions or concerns on the flyer

                The Commission felt the CWD flyer looked good; Melissa will be contacted.       

          d.Review/Discuss/Approve 911 GIS Data Maintenance agreement between Fallon County and KLJ Engineering, LLC

                Darcy did not have time to review the agreement.

11:45 AM Commissioner Braun made the motion to recess.  Commissioner Rost seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

          NOON RECESS

PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun, and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



          No one appeared for Public Comment.

1:30 PM COUNTY ATTORNEY BUSINESS SESSION/Darcy Wassmann, County Attorney 

          OLD Business- Commission discussed the meeting held on Monday regarding the 95 school equalization mills.  Darcy has no definite opinion at this time; this topic was discussed for most of the meeting.

          1.Coral Creek Landfill Trust Account Discussion/Decisions

             The Commission informed Darcy that Shawn Wiseman, Bank of Baker was in contact with someone from Wells Fargo that will be assisting us with this matter.

          2.Gate permit process/policy discussion/decisions

             Darcy left a draft gate permit for the Commission to view.

         3.Indigent Burial policy discussion/decisions

             Darcy did not have time to complete this.

         4.Interlocal agreement between Fallon County and City of Baker for garbage services

             Darcy has not had time to complete this.

         5.Review/Discuss/Decisions-Task order for various on-call engineering/survey services with KLJ

             Darcy has not had time to review this.

         6.Review/Discuss/Decision Parkview Rental agreement updates

              Some discussion, no decisions today.

         7.Sign termination of Interlocal Agreement with the City of Baker for funding and operation of the Fallon County Planning Board and Staff

               Darcy has not had time to complete this.

          8.Revise/Sign Interlocal Agreement with the City of Baker for the Planning Board

                Darcy has not had time to complete this.

          9.Review/Discuss/Approve 911 GIS Data Maintenance agreement between Fallon County and KLJ Engineering, LLC

               Darcy did not have time to review this.

         10.Old or other county business (as needed)

2:45 PM Darcy left the meeting.

2:45 PM EMS UPDATES/Brittany Renner, EMS Program Manager

              Report-Brittany brought the monthly Ambulance call sheet – August-40 calls/ September-27 calls; October- 3 calls to date.

          1.Discuss/Decision regarding pay scale for EMT’s

               The decision was made to change the amount paid and billed for runs and the billing amount for flights will increase as well.  They will not increase on-call pay until next fiscal year. 

               Commissioner Braun made the motion to adjust the fees charged and billed to the flight company and change the billable rates per run and amount paid per run, per EMT.  Commissioner Rost seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for discussion.  Commissioner Rost felt the rates should be included in the motion; all agreed.  The new fee charged and billed to the flight company will be $108.00; the fee per run charged to patient and paid per EMT/ per run-IN TOWN-$50.00; OUT OF CITY LIMITS-$65.00; Transfers to: MILES CITY/GLENDIVE-$143.00; BILLINGS, BISMARCK, ND, or RAPID CITY, SD- $286.00. Commissioner Baldwin asked for further discussion.  Commissioner Rost asked about the effective date. Decision to be effective, Midnight on the 5th of October, 2023.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

          2.Permission to purchase Ambulance Equipment/

               Brittany explained the need to get the PCRs to the hospital in a timely manner (within 24 hours). Brittany went to David Espeland, FMC-CEO to get permission to hook the ambulance tough book up, and download it to a hospital printer, rather than driving back to the Ambulance garage and downloading and driving the report back to the Hospital. Permission was not granted/security was the reason given. Brittany met with the Director of Nursing, and they found another way to do this. The Ambulance will instead be purchasing I-pads and a printer. The printer will be kept at the Hospital in a secured room. The EMT’s can hook I-Pads to the printer and leave the report for the Hospital. There is no need to have Wi-Fi for this process. Brittany had allowed $7,000 for tough books in her budget.  The I-pads and printer will not come close to that figure.  The commission granted permission to purchase and would like Brittany to get back to the commission with the total cost.

          UPDATES/Brittany did get an on-call county cell phone (and if she is gone, it will be given to the person in charge during her absence).  Brittany will be attending a debriefing in Sidney, MT October 23rd-25th.  Brittany will be making sure the ambulance garage and ambulances are ready for the upcoming annual inspection.

3:06 PM Brittany left the meeting.

3:07 PM FAIR UPDATES/Jennefer Wheeler, Fairgrounds Manager

          1.Discussion/Decision regarding ARAMARK Agreement/Kimberly Jensen, AP Clerk

              Kimberly and Jennefer discussed the most recent phone call to Aramark regarding cancellation of the agreement with them and Fallon County for their services at the Fairgrounds.  The decision was made, the Commission would phone the manager, (Greg), while Jennefer and Kimberly were present.  Kimberly let the manager know he was on speaker phone with herself, Jennefer, the County Commissioners and Brenda and the reason for the call.

              Commissioner Baldwin stated, the County no longer requires their services. Greg apologized for not getting new pricing to them.  Commissioner Baldwin stated the county does not want pricing. Greg stated they DO have a contract with Fallon County.  Kimberly stated Aramark had Jennefer sign the contract before the old contract had expired. The Commission stated the agreement should not have been signed by an employee; all contracts come before the Commission to be signed.  Greg wondered why that process was not questioned before.  The Commission did not know contracts were being signed for their services. Greg wanted to talk to Kenny to check on the truthfulness of Fallon County’s statements. Kimberly discussed the notice that was sent in June, which would allow plenty of notice that Fallon County was going to cancel the contract with them. Greg stated they have a new service agreement signed each year and have a new signed agreement for Fallon County.  Kimberly asked how the customer is allowed their ability to cancel within 6 months if they keep having a new agreement signed.  Greg explained the 6 months is to protect Aramark. The Commission stated the County’s policy does not allow employees to sign contracts and we do not need new pricing. Discussed, the Landfill agreement is already done and the next time they are in Baker they will remove all of Aramark’s property from the Landfill. Discussed where we will go from here. Greg still needs to visit with Kenny and will get a price to buy out the breach amount. The Commission gave him their phone number and Greg felt he would call back tomorrow. Commissioner Braun stated we are a governmental entity, and we follow procedures and the law; there has been no breach.  Greg will call back and talk to Commissioner Braun. 

3:19 PM Greg hung up the phone, leaving the discussion.

3:22 PM Kimberly left the meeting.

           UPDATES/Tomorrow is the Soup and Salad Luncheon, and the Chamber will be holding their monthly meeting in the Board room at the exhibit hall as well. There will be a FWP hunting informational meeting held at the Fairgrounds next week. 4H Achievement Award Banquet will be held; AAU football banquet, weddings and other functions using the Exhibit Hall.  They are still working on updated by-laws. The Fair Board will vote on the staller agreement this month.  Letters will be sent to stallers with the new agreement and the new stall rent fee.  The new fee will begin in January, 2024. Discussed a possible updated stipend for board members, (during Fair weekend), and that would need to be included in the by-laws as well. The Commission would need to set the amount of the stipend. Discussed leaving the sand in the barn for the wild game feed; the commission discussed the amount of time and the cost to move it out and back in. This will be discussed at the next Fair Board meeting as well.

          Jennefer discussed new Fair Board members do not know their roles when they come on board. Jennefer feels the by-laws should be sent when they receive their appointment letter from the Commission stating they are a board member. Everyone feels this is a great idea for all boards that have by-laws. 

         Discussed the various upcoming conventions that will be attended by herself and various other board members.  Jennefer and Matt will be attending the RMAF Convention in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Discussed the other conferences and attendees in Salt Lake City, Utah; PRCA-Las Vegas, NV; Circuit Finals in January. 

3:30 PM Greg, Aramark phoned in to the Commission office.

          Greg stated he contacted Kenny, and they will remove Aramark’s property in January if Fallon County finishes the contract that expires in January.  The Commission agreed. 

3:34 PM Greg hung up the phone leaving the discussion.

Jennefer stated they are looking at other Fair ticket software.

3:36 PM Jennefer left the meeting.

3:37 PM INSIDE MAINTENANCE UPDATES/Lynda Herbst, Custodian Supervisor

           1.Permission to complete budgeted LED lighting at the courthouse/

                  Lynda would like permission to complete LED lighting per quotes submitted at budget time.  She would like to complete the cove area first/courtroom and the lobby. The Commission granted permission as long as it is completed a section at a time. 

           2.Permission to complete budgeted paint project/

                   Lynda would like to complete the budgeted paint project in Dispatch/Sheriff and Police Department.  The Commission asked Lynda to find out how long it would take her and get that information back to them.  Asked if Lynda had another quote and said she tried and could not get another one. The Commission prefers the quotes be more detailed such as how many hours and at what price. 

                  Commissioner Baldwin asked if Lynda found anyone to paint the library ceiling.  Lynda has not gotten any responses.  

           UPDATES/Saturday night and Sunday morning she was called out for an alarm in the mechanical room at Dispatch. Tom Bruha, Fire Chief also came down. Lynda reported all of the HVAC system was shut off downstairs, but she got it back up and running.  Tom felt they had problems with the same smoke detector before. Lynda did not remember that but will contact Justin-406 Fire Protection and have him come and clean it. Lynda found something she felt may work to contain the water from coming in the boiler room during large rain events.  The Commission discussed the drainage issue with Shannon Brosz Engineering. That information will be shared with Lynda.

3:46 PM Lynda left the meeting.

4:00 PM GOLF COURSE UPDATES/Kevin Hill, Golf Course Superintendent; Doug Varner, Lead Seasonal Ground Crew Hand

          1.Discuss/Decision regarding county cell phone/Kimberly Jensen, AP Clerk

             County cell phone was discussed; Kevin does not need the phone, prefers to carry just one phone. Kevin will bring the phone to Josh so it can be cancelled and used in another department.

4:02 PM Kimberly left the meeting.

          UPDATES/They have aerated the fairways and fertilized; one last seeding was completed. The seeder works really well; discussed mowing the greens. Discussion regarding placement of snow fence; they will need more fence if the decision is to go around all of the greens.  They will place fungicide to protect from mold and anti-desiccant to protect from the weather. Discussed one area that has a drainage issue they have plans to complete next year. The Commission felt if they had time this year, it would be best to get it finished now.

4:15 PM Richard Menger, Sanitarian joined.

            Rich let Kevin know he plans to test for nutrients and will report the information to Kevin.

4:16 PM Rich left the discussion.

Doug stated they have a large water leak that they need to repair tomorrow. They dug the area up by hand but would like the dingo in case they need to do more digging and will help save time when covering. Discussed all the progress they have made this year. Will now be able to finish day-to-day operations rather than renovations.  They plan to blow out the irrigation system next week, (Monday and again Wednesday and Thursday). Discussed dropping the water level on the pond so they can place the new lid. If more water needs to be added for the test required by the DEQ they can do that after the lid is replaced.  They need to get more good sand; they keep checking but they are not making it right now.  They would like to pour some cement pads to put the sand on.

4:30 PM Kevin and Jeff left the meeting.

4:30 PM LANDFILL UPDATES/Jeff Frank, Manager of Landfill Operations

          UPDATES-Jeff stated Hugo, road crew member moved the last of the topsoil. Jeff is ready to move the tree branches from the container site to the Landfill and feels he and Jeff H. can use the truck and the containers to accomplish that. Jeff is trying to get a permit to burn the tree branches at the Landfill. The new crew member is working well and learns quickly. Will not be able to run the scraper until the weather gets nice again. Jeff asked about the soil map needed from Shannon Hewson, Brosz Engineering; the Commission will contact Shannon and get that information. Discussed increasing fees at the Landfill for tire disposal. Jeff feels all the fees need to be increased. Jeff will bring an updated fee schedule for the Commission to review. Discussed the upcoming Landfill inspection. Jeff has a few accounts that are behind but not a lot of dollars; Jeff is working with these individuals.

4:46 PM Jeff left the meeting.

          The Commission discussed moving the old siren from the CB Heiser property. Commissioner Braun will contact CB regarding any compensation for allowing the siren to be housed on his property and for use of electricity. 

4:56 PM Commissioner Roy made the motion to recess.  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.




PRESENT: Steve Baldwin, Chairman; Kevin Braun and Roy Rost, Members; Brenda Wood, Clerk and Recorder



          Wayne Mangold, TV District Board member met to discuss the issues he has been having with various channels. Glendive is having issues with a satellite and is trying to get a filter to resolve the issues.  Wayne feels some of the issues could be the G5 and other things that are interfering with the frequencies.  Commissioner Braun asked if some of the issues would also be antiquated equipment.  Wayne stated yes that is a large part of it and wanted to visit with the commission about the Grid United grant he is trying to apply for. The cost to replace the equipment for the Baker TV District at Bracket Butte is $100,000+/-. The grant is for $50,000; however, they may fund more, but if not, they would need the county’s financial assistance.  Wayne would like a letter of support from the county.  If the District cannot get the entire project funded, they would need to prove the county would assist them in completing the project.  Bracket Butte would be 100%; Plevna would benefit from some of the equipment from the Baker TV District. The districts may be able to get more funding down the road and could get new equipment for Plevna TV District later. Commissioner Baldwin asked for a template letter. Wayne stated the letter needs to state the commission supports the improvement grant for the Baker TV District to upgrade TV equipment.  Commissioner Braun felt they should include both TV Districts in the grant request to Grid United. Commissioner Braun would be in favor of supporting the TV Districts financially as long as they are trying to get grants. All of the Commission agreed they would write a letter of support. 

8:40 AM Wayne left Public Comment.

8:54 AM Commissioner Rost made the motion to approve the minutes from September 18-22, 2023 with the following corrections: Monday, September 18th at 11:04 AM meeting-Pay Scale-Minutes read: Brittany wondered if the pay scale discussed during budget meetings had been approved or when should she have discussed this.  The line should read: (Brittany wondered if the pay scale and billing scale discussed during the budget meetings had been approved or when should she have discussed this).  Also, Friday, September 22 at 9:00 AM. Dean Wang, was not present at the meeting at the Bank of Baker.  (Dean Wang was removed).  Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for further discussion; being none.  3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

9:00AM DISCUSS/DECISION TO PASS RESOLUTION #1113 FIXING/AMENDING THE MILL LEVY FOR THE STATE EQUALIZATION, COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL EQUALIZATION AND COUNTY ELEMENTARY EQUALIZATION MILL LEVY AUTHORITY FOR THE FISCAL YEAR BEGINNING JULY 1, 2023 AND ENDING JUNE 30, 2024/Barbara Ketterling, Treasurer/Assessor; Julie Post, Deputy Treasurer/Assessor; Aaron Skogen, Baker Superintendent of Schools; Jennifer Mettler, Baker High School Clerk; Karen Wang and Jay Quenzer, Baker School Board Members; Darcy Wassmann, County Attorney; Rich Batterman, City Attorney- via phone

           95 Mills School Equalization Funding discussion continued.  Discussed amending school equalization mills to 77.9 mills and how that would be handled. Also discussed sending subsequent tax bills to taxpayers if the court rules in favor of the State’s 95 mills.

          Determination statement-Commissioner Rost led the discussion starting with the State’s tax levy determination statement completed by the DOR. This statement shows 77.89 mills are allowable this FY and also shows carry forward mills of 26.49.  The carry forward mills are being questioned as to their validity; are these banked mills? They asked the DOR where they arrived at the banked mill figure and have not received a response.  They also asked for an opinion from the Attorney General and he would not give an opinion.

          The 95 mills do not go into a special fund; the mills go into the state’s General Fund. Per statute the schools have to be made whole, however some other programs may be cut. The Commission has to follow the law; if the Commission levies the 95 mills and the taxpayer feels they are being overtaxed, every taxpayer must protest in writing, before paying their tax bill AND must then file an action in District Court. If the County is wrong, there is no mechanism in place for the counties to refund the taxpayer. Commissioner Rost explained the DOR refuses to show their math; this could all be resolved if they would just show their math. If the County levies the 77.9 and the court rules in favor of the state, that process is already in motion, the county will be sued.  

          Jennifer handed out her spreadsheet and explained school funding in detail. Explained HB587 takes into account revenue from the 95 mills and increases as property values increase. The 95 mills go into the General Fund; HB587 revenues go into the SEPTR (School Equalization and Property Tax Reduction) Fund, which is outside of other funding sources. GTB (Guaranteed Tax Base) was also discussed in detail. 

          Jennifer explained the Baker School District gets a lot of state aid: Direct State Aid, Quality Educator Aid; At Risk Student; Indian Education for All; American Indian Achievement Gap Payment, schools are now allowed to get major building aid money and state matches the money, also received are local property tax revenues as well as some non-tax revenues. Jen explained the Baker School District benefits from the 95 mills and if the counties choose to levy the 77.9, this will really affect the schools and down the road it will affect the local taxpayers. Jennifer explained the GTB is designed for those School Districts with low mill values; those schools will benefit from the GTB transfers because they could never generate enough other revenue.

          The Commission wants to do what is best for the taxpayer. Rich stated he feels part of the problem stems from the huge property tax disputes in the more burdened areas. Rich feels the same cap should apply to the 95 mills; is the state over levying? Aaron stated the counties are in a tough spot, but the schools are saying this is the wrong thing to do. This will likely go from the District Courts on to the Supreme Court. 

10:00 AM David Espeland, FMC-CEO and Marjorie Losing, FMC-CFO arrived.

          There was much more discussion on the 95 mills versus the 77.9 mills.  Jennifer does not feel this will affect the funding this year, but looking at the future, it WILL affect schools. Commissioner Braun errs on the side of the taxpayer. Jay just wants the Commission to understand what Jennifer is explaining, yes it may not affect the funding this year; if we take these cuts now; how will that affect the schools down the road? Jennifer just wants everyone to be informed and to understand school funding is complicated. Discussed probability of a quick decision from the courts is unlikely. 

          No decisions were made by the Commission today.  It will be on the agenda again next week. 

10:26 AM Everyone left the meeting.

10:35 AM Commissioner Baldwin was excused to attend to other county business.

10:35 AM FMC MONTHLY UPDATES/David Espeland, CEO; Marjorie Losing, CFO       

          UPDATES/Majorie presented the July and August Financials; August was a better month for FMC.

          CAH to REH/David discussed CAH (Critical Access Hospitals) moving to REH (Rural Emergency Hospitals). Hospitals can move from Critical Access Hospitals to Rural Emergency Hospitals.  REH was designed to address the growing concern over closures of rural hospitals. The REH allows for the provision of emergency services, observation care and additional medical and health outpatient services.  They would pay the hospitals a designated amount, but they could have no swing beds and would receive no cost-share reimbursements.  There would be no long-term care facility; residents would have to be moved to private care or other facilities.

          Marjorie finished reviewing the financial report with the Commission.

          Discussed FMC Project upgrades; David stated he has not had much luck getting SDI to engage in the projects.  The County may be doing a door project at the courthouse and could combine Fallon County and FMC projects.

10:57 AM Commissioner Baldwin returned.

          David reviewed the updated Parkview Rental addendums and had a few suggestions to add to them.  The suggestions will be sent to Darcy to possibly incorporate into the addendums. David took the information from the Hospital Pet Policy which can be changed as needed.

11:00 AM David and Marjorie left the meeting.


          Jim Leischner was unable to attend the meeting. Debbie will do some research on ownership of the senior centers and how it transpired. 


11:23 AM Commissioner Rost made the motion to adopt Resolution 1114 – Resolution of Intent to Amend the Social Media Policy-5.02. Commissioner Braun seconded the motion.  Commissioner Baldwin asked for any discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

11:26 AM Commissioner Braun made the motion to recess and adjourn after the Baker Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture meeting (as more than one Commissioner may attend).  Commissioner Rost seconded the motion. Commissioner Baldwin asked for any other discussion; being none. 3 Ayes. 0 Nays. The motion carried unanimously.

          NOON RECESS



                                                                                                s/Steve Baldwin, Chairman


s/Brenda J. Wood, Clerk and Recorder